Debenhams in race against time to secure lifeline. Debenhams (DEB) must raise emergency funds by the end of this week or the ailing chain could face administration. Without a refinancing of its debt mountain and access to fresh capital, the embattled retailer will be unable to pay a looming £50m quarterly rent bill. The payment to landlords is due on Monday March 25, meaning an agreement with lenders would need to be in place by the end of the week. Failure to secure a deal could force banks to call in their loans, pushing Debenhams into administration, sources close to the talks said. Lenders would then take control of the business.
Three leave in Barclays board shake-up. Barclays (BARC) has shaken up its board just weeks after major shareholders pushed incoming chairman Nigel Higgins to bring in new blood. Mike Turner, the former boss of BAE Systems and until recently the chairman of Babcock, will step down from the board along with former Goldman Sachs banker Reuben Jeffery and economist Dambisa Moyo. The move comes weeks after Rothschild veteran Mr Higgins, who replaces John McFarlane in May, began discussions with the bank’s top investors to rally support just as activist investor Edward Bramson, who owns more than 5% of the bank through his firm Sherborne Investors, seeks backing for a board seat.
Battle to save Alitalia amid concerns over EasyJet rescue. Italian officials have crossed the Atlantic in a bid to resurrect a rescue deal for Alitalia as concerns mount that easyJet (EZJ) is about to walk away from a deal to save the bankrupt carrier. US airline Delta hosted Italian state rail company Ferrovie dello Stato in Atlanta, Georgia, on Friday, sources said. EasyJet and Delta announced in February that they are in talks to inject up to €400m (£341m) and create a “new Alitalia”. But easyJet’s interest cooled last week, with it reportedly only interested in short-haul slots from Milan’s Linate airport. Some €900m of government funding is due to be repaid by April. Refinancing this will trigger a EU state aid review.
Questor: as oil recovers, IMI (IMI) is worth buying in anticipation of better times ahead. Questor share tip: the valve maker has been diversifying away from the energy markets but a recovery in the oil price will do it no harm